We don’t tend to think of Bible women playing a role in wars, and yet, the Old Testament includes plenty of examples of female spies, allies, and even warriors. We conclude our celebration of Women’s History Month with our final group of Unsung Heroes from the Bible. Today we take a look at Undercover Agents, ordinary women who performed extraordinary feats in times of war.
The Bible is full of female war heroes.
First, there was Rahab, a prostitute living alongside the wall of Jericho who took in the Hebrew spies, hid them from the men from town, and helped them escape to safety.
Then we had Deborah, the judge who led the Israelites during battle. She was minding her own business, serving as a judge in her front yard, when God gave her a message for Barak, commander of the army. Now, God had already given the message to Barak, but he hadn’t obeyed. God used Deborah to nudge him along.
But what did he do? He said he’d only go to battle if Deborah went with him. Imagine! I suspect that most women would have rolled their eyes at him and gone on with their lives, but not Deborah. She traveled the 70 miles to the battlefield to support the 10,000 soldiers. God intervened, sending a massive hail storm, allowing the Israelites to defeat their enemies except for Sisera, the enemy leader.
And that’s where Jael came in. She was another housewife hanging out at home when Sisera fled for safety and passed by her house. She invited him in, made him comfortable, then put to death their enemy.
Then there was the Woman of Abel. Her town was under siege and no one knew what to do. While everyone else ran around in a panic, this brave woman took action. She went towards the wall and yelled out that she wanted to speak to Joab, the military commander. Each on their own side of the wall, they reached an agreement that ended the attack and led to the safety of her city.
When David’s son Absalom tried to take over the throne and David went into hiding, he needed a way to keep up with what was going on. He had two spies in En-Rogel, but they had to be discreet. They enlisted the assistance of a servant girl, the Wench of En-Rogel, who kept an ear to all that was going on and relayed the information to David’s spies, who passed it on to David.
David’s spies were caught in En-Rogel but managed to escape to the village of Bahurim. A woman there was in her house and noticed the spies slipping into her well. Realizing the situation, she discreetly went over, covered the the opening with a cloth, then threw dried grain atop the cloth.
When Absolom’s servants came by and asked if she’d seen the two men. She innocently misdirected them, saying the men may have traveled the way of the brook. Nonetheless, the servants searched the property, and when they didn’t find anything suspicious, they returned to Jerusalem.
Once it was safe to come out, she removed the cloth and grain, and the messengers went on their way to David.
Finally, we have the Woman of Thebez. Like the Woman of Abel, her town was under siege. In her case, all the townspeople had fled for safety on a roof tower. As everyone ran around in confusion, this woman watched as Abimelech prepared to burn down the tower. Looking around, she saw a millstone nearby. She grabbed it and carefully threw it down as Abimelech neared the building. God guided the stone, killing him and saving the town.
The Rest of the Story
Each of these stories has a common thread – ordinary women going about their everyday lives caught unaware when suddenly they were whisked into action.
None of these women sought adventure. Rahab, Jael and the Woman of Bahurim were at their homes. Deborah was under a tree in her front yard. The Wench of En-Rogel was at her place of work. The Woman of Abel was trapped inside the city walls. And the Woman of Thebez was trapped atop a tower. They were all going about their day to day business as usual living. And yet when the situation called for bravery, they were ready and answered the call.
Each of these women had to do some quick thinking. They were impulsive. They had to think outside of the box and figure out how to do something that no one else could do. They each worked with the resources and skillsets they had to get the job done.
None of these women could have foreseen the impact that their actions would have. They were acting in the moment, clueless to the long term results.
Some of these women worked in conjunction with others. Deborah was there for the battle. Jael finished the job. When David’s spies escaped from En-Rogel, they showed up in the yard of the Woman of Bahurim, and she helped them escape to safety.
Though they were all a part of a bigger picture, each of them had their job to do and worked alone to do their part. Oftentimes the part they played was small, but combined with other events, had a major impact.
Finally, each of these women worked behind the scenes, often without any acknowledgement or recognition for their acts of bravery. The women from Abel and Thabez each saved their city from destruction, and yet, the Bible authors didn’t even provide their names. Did they know who they were, or were these women just obscure nobodies who were at the right place and the right time and did what they could do?
What about you? Are you seeking excitement and adventure? Do you dream of doing grand things for God? Are you willing to do small things for Him?
God has you where you’re at for a reason. Though you may never be called upon to save your city, if the time does come, let’s hope you’re where you’re supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
It’s during those ordinary moments of our lives that God often uses us in extraordinary ways. That’s why it’s so important to give our all to everything we do, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
It may be that He’s not calling you to great things because He knows you’re not ready. Are you so caught up in yourself that you don’t notice opportunities to do something for someone else? Are you willing to work behind the scenes if it means your work goes unnoticed or someone else gets the glory?
We have no way of knowing what our future holds. Each morning we wake up clueless to how the day will end. What starts off as just another morning can quickly turn into a day of drama and danger. The only way to prepare for those days is to be right with the Lord.
If we begin our days in prayer, if we turn to the Lord throughout the day, seeking His wisdom in all that we do, and if we take all our cares to Him, He will prepare us for those times when we must step up and take action just like these Bible Undercover Agents.
Lord God, thank You for using women in mighty ways. Thank You for each of these amazing Bible women and for sharing their stories with us. Be with us as we go about our day-to-day lives. Prepare us for what it is that You have in store for us. Give us the courage to step up when the time comes. Equip us with the resources and the skillsets to do all that we need to do. Forgive us those times we let our fear overtake us. Forgive us those times we do nothing. Thank You for giving us second chances. Thank You for using us even if we’ve failed in the past. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Several of the women mentioned today were featured in the daily bonus episodes I did in November. It’s now easier to find those episodes and enjoy them. Just go to the All God’s Women website and click on Bonus Episodes under Podcast on the menu. There you can find all twenty bonus episodes.
Judges 4-6, 9
2 Samuel 17, 20
Bible Study Review
- Which women hid spies?
- Which women saved their city?
- Which women defeated their enemy?
Thoughts to Ponder
- What were the women doing when God called them into action?
- Why would God use women in war?
- How much time did the women have to ponder their decision?
- Are you willing to take risks when God calls you?
- Can you act calmly in the face of danger?
- Has God ever asked you to serve in any way like these women?
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